You know that quote that travels around the internet that says something like “actions speak louder than words”? Yeah, that thought terrifies me. As a teacher, I saw first hand how much kids pick up on what adults are doing, as they mimic nearly every part of their teachers-for better or worse. The students paid far more attention to what we did rather than what we said.
As a parent, I try so hard to do what I can to shape responsible, compassionate, confident people. But I worry all the time that I’m passing on things to my kids I don’t even know I am because some of my actions are so ingrained or rote it is not even conscious modeling. I am not always responsible or compassionate and certainly not confident and I am afraid it is those moments where I fail at each that my kids will imprint on their brains, rather than all the times I may tell them otherwise.
Lately, I am in that sweet spot with our kids where they are old enough to understand lectures and still young enough to listen. Now is when I find myself talking a lot. We have conversations about things that I would have never guessed would come up this early. But, I figure as long as they’re still young enough to believe I know what I am talking about, I will answer any question that comes my way with as much honesty as seems appropriate for their personality.
But I can’t stop there. I have to watch what I do, because, you know that whole loud action thing. If I talk about drinking and driving, I dare not have one drop in their presence and get behind a wheel of a car. If I tell my girl she’s beautiful just the way she is and strong and healthy is important, not thin, I better watch my mouth about my own fat thighs. If I preach kindness and forgiveness and compassion, I better be ready to act kind and compassionate and to forgive.
Being a parent is hard and while none of us is perfect, I just might need to try a little harder if I want my kids to really hear what is right.
This post was inspired by The Dinner by Herman Koch. Two brothers and their wives sit down for a tension filled dinner to discuss a tragedy that can change both families’ lives forever. Join From Left to Write on October 29 as we discuss The Dinner. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.
Amy, Using Our Words says
You speak the truth, my friend. This has been heavy on my mind lately. Thanks for the beautiful reminder.
When you say you talk a lot to your kids, I think you’ve got it precisely right. My kids are teens, and I’ve always talked to them – when it’s comfortable, and when it’s not. Sometimes I say shocking things to them, but always couch it in love. They get it. Its hard to start this when they’re teens, so starting young is key.
That’s good to hear. Sometimes I think I’m too frank too early but let’s hope the transition to teen is smoother than if I weren’t up front now!
Truly actions do speak louder than words and it reminds me that we have to be “doers” of what is right to be good examples!
I just wish being a doer was easier sometimes!;)